Leaders from all across the world gathered in Paris on Monday, to mark the beginning of the most crucial summit on climate change. More than 40,000 delegates from 193 companies are set to attend the COP21 or the Paris Climate Change Conference.
The conference began on a solemn note as a moment of silence was observed in honor of the victims of the ghastly terrorist attack that took place on November 13th, 2015. French Prime Minister, Francois Hollande, acknowledged the intensity and magnitude of both issues that are a hazard to the human race, viz. terrorism and climate change. That these are two great challenges that we must collectively rise to.
“Never have the stakes been so high because this is about the future of the planet, the future of life. And yet two weeks ago, here in Paris itself, a group of fanatics was sowing the seeds of death in the streets.” said Hollande.
The leaders are meeting in Paris to agree on one common cause, i.e., to agree on legally binding the greenhouse gas emissions. The main players – USA and China, who are also the largest contributors of greenhouse gases, are to sit together and discuss the implications of this summit.
According to COP organizers, it has taken 20 years of negotiations by the United Nations to reach a stage where they have managed to arrive at an agreement of legally binding global emissions to prevent a global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius higher than during pre-industrial times.
Indian Prime Minister, Narender Modi, who was also present at the summit, asked developed nations to shoulder the greater responsibility towards the cause as it would only be morally fair to developing nations such as India, as it could hamper their path to development.
“Since science has moved on and alternative energy sources are available, they argue that those just beginning their development journey bear no less responsibility than those who have reached the zenith of their progress. New awareness, however, should lead advanced countries to assume more responsibility. Just because technology exists does not mean it is affordable and accessible.”- Narendra Modi.
“The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be the bedrock of our collective enterprise. Anything else would be morally wrong,” PM Modi wrote in the Opinion section of today’s edition of ‘Financial Times’, UK’s leading financial daily.
He justified that whatever little carbon that we can still safely burn, should be allowed to be used for further growth of such developing nations.
That the demands on the privileged few should not crowd out opportunities for those who are still on the lower rungs of the development ladder.
He also reaffirmed his plans to launch the alliance of 121 solar-rich nations in the tropics, who will collectively work towards bringing affordable solar power to villages that are off the grid.
Sustainable development is undoubtedly a shared responsibility, however, the countries that are already at the zenith or pinnacle of development need to realize that their contribution should be higher, since they are already reaping the benefits of being developed nation. Their developmental fuel can no longer run on an environmental cost.
Sustainable development should be seen as a competitive edge and not as a burden. Climate change is not just a threat to the planet, it’s a threat to us.
In the words of Dr. Klaus Topfer, “sustainable development is the peace policy of the future!”